Ohio2006 Blog

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Sunday, February 26

Cong. 18th: The Up Side of a Contested Primary ...

This story in the Chillicothe Gazette illustrates everything that is good about having a contested primary: testing and defining candidates, repeating and reinforcing the party's message, generating exposure and enthusiasm. In brief, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern and the three Democratic candidates for the 18th Congressional District seat now held by Bob Ney (R-Heath) were featured at the annual Muskingum County Democratic Women's Club Mardi Gras Party, which filled the dining room of Zak's Restaurant in Zanesville. Each had a chance to address the gathering, but most of the evening was spent talking with people one-on-one. Redfern started by attacking Republicans and getting the party faithful excited about the prospects of victory. He has visited 22 counties in the last month and found Democrats everywhere excited about breaking the Republican stranglehold on government.

The three candidates followed, each stressing the issues of jobs, health care and education, but from distinct perspectives. "I'm running because we need change," said Law Director Zack Space (D-Dover). "Government should be working on the issues of fair trade, health care and educating children, instead it's in the back pocket of special interests." Jennifer Stewart (D-Zanesville) emphasized educational opportunities and jobs, drawing on her experience as a member of the state board of education and the Zanesville school board. Mayor Joe Sulzer (D-Chillicothe) said his experience and leadership qualities as a state legislator, mayor, and city council member will separate him from the rest of the candidates. Too many jobs have left rural Ohio and new jobs must be created, he went on, something he has been involved with in Chillicothe. Health care "needs some common sense applied to it" and corporations must maintain pensions that retired employees have earned. The candidates did little bashing of Ney.

What's not to like about that? So long as the primary continues in this manner, with the candidates focusing on positives and reinforcing each other's basic themes, whichever one emerges victorious will be that much stronger in the general election.

On another note, it is encouraging that Redfern seems to be everywhere these days, doing his job of promoting candidates and firing up the party. There has been a fair amount of grumbling about him, having to do mainly with (1) the heavy-handed way in which he was selected, (2) his youth, and (3) being another white guy. I have some sympathy for that last point, feeling that an opportunity to reflect the inclusiveness and diversity of the party was missed, but to my way of thinking Redfern's energy and hard work during this election cycle should trump those objections.


At 9:32 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Thanks for this report, Jeff. What you describe sounds to me like the way I would think it should be in each congressional district.

On a different note, I saw somewhere that for state senate, no one is running in Fingerhut's seat? Is he term-limited, running for it again or is there really no Dem running there?

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Actually, Lance T. Mason is running, and he is a very good guy. On the Republican side it is a surprise candidate, former Euclid Mayor David Lynch, who had been expected to challenge Jimmy Dimora for his County Commissioner job.

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